Food chains should display calorie informationTwo thirds of consumers want calorie information

05 September 2011

Burger and chips on a plate

It's not always easy to tell which restaurant foods are the most calorific.

Which? research has uncovered restaurants are failing to provide calorie labelling on food. 

Two thirds of consumers think it's important that the calorie content of food is provided when they're eating out. 

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: 'We all like to eat out sometimes without counting calories, but our research shows that most people want to see calorie information for their meal. We've found there can be huge nutritional differences between apparently similar foods.'

Whopper versus Big Mac

Although it's clear to most customers that a burger is not particularly healthy, there were some real surprises when we looked in detail at the calorie content. We found:

  • A Burger King Whopper has around a third more calories than a McDonald's Big Mac.
  • A Starbucks 'skinny' lemon and poppy seed iced muffin contains more calories than a standard apple and cinnamon muffin.
  • A slice of Costa carrot cake has more calories than a chocolate Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Public Health Responsibility Deal

37 companies have agreed to voluntarily provide calorie information instore as part of the government's Public Health Responsibility Deal. 

The major chains taking this positive step to display calorie information are Prêt à Manger, Starbucks, McDonald's, Burger King, Harvester, KFC and Pizza Hut.

Their competitors Subway, Pizza Express, Domino's Pizza, Nando's, Caffè Nero and Costa have yet to sign up.

Which? is challenging all national food chains to provide calorie information to their customers, something that many of these chains are already doing in the United States.

Calorie labelling on all food

Recent evidence from New York, where calorie information was first displayed, shows several major chains saw significant reductions in the average calorie content per purchase.

Richard Lloyd said: 'Which? wants to see all major national food chains signing up to provide calorie information. There's no excuse for the companies already displaying calories in the US not to do the same here.' 

He added: 'If calorie labelling cannot be achieved on a voluntary basis, we want the government to make it a legal requirement.'

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